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A guide to loving and preserving the unique nature and culture of the Mediterranean.
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The Reserve Effect

Sa Dragonera, Mallorca


“It would have been impossible to set up 11 marine reserves without majority support from the citizenship”

Toni Grau, Head of Marine Resources GOIB

Overexploitation is one of the main issues affecting commercial fish species in the Mediterranean. Creating environmental protection areas is essential for promoting responsible fishing that will favour the stability of the fish populations in our sea. The Balearic Islands, with 11 reserves and the national maritime-terrestrial park of Cabrera, have become a benchmark for marine preservation. An example of how government management and citizen collaboration can help us to value the jewel that is the Mediterranean Sea.


A marine reserve is an essential tool for ensuring that fishing activity allows for the recovery of the commercial fish species that are most affected by overexploitation. Moreover, classifying a marine area as a reserve prevents the most damaging forms of fishing from reaching the floor of the Mediterranean, thereby protecting its characteristic heterogeneity.


Fish populations living in marine reserves respond almost instantly to the removal or reduction of fishing pressures, which is reflected by the increase in the number of specimens and also their size. In the case of Freu de Sa Dragonera, the fish population has doubled in just two years, and it is expected to multiply by seven times over the next few years when compared to data recorded prior to the area becoming a reserve.


Citizen collaboration is essential to ensuring that the number of marine reserves continues to grow along the Mediterranean coast. Associations and foundations like Save The Med and Marilles work hand in hand with governments to identify new protection areas, draft reports, analyse results, and raise awareness of the importance for our future of looking after everything that lives under the water.


Following the approval of L’Illa de l’Aire in Menorca, the number of marine reserves in the Balearic Islands has increased to 11. Without doubt, this initiative is an example to all, with its commitment to protecting and valuing the Mediterranean’s biodiversity as a hallmark of a unique territory. Toni Grau is very aware of this, “Twenty-five years ago, we never would’ve imagined having 11 marine reserves, but here we are. If we protect the Mediterranean, everybody wins."

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